A heavy metal/hard rock artist from Detroit, Michigan, Vincent Damon Furnier (born February 4, 1948) was originally the frontman of a band called Alice Cooper. He has also used it as his stage name from the start. Every Alice Cooper album credits vocals (and sometimes harmonica) to Alice Cooper. He has since legally changed his name to this. The split was entirely amicable, probably because Furnier pays royalties to his former bandmates for the right to use the name.
Cooper's career started in 1964, when the band was named The Earwigs, then The Spiders, and later The Nazz. In 1969, they renamed themselves Alice Cooper and released their debut album, Pretties for You on Frank Zappa's Straight Records label. Their first major breakthrough was in 1971 with the release of the song "I'm Eighteen" on the album Love it to Death. The song was followed up with what is considered Cooper's Signature Song, "School's Out" in 1972. In 1973, they released their most commercially successful album, Billion Dollar Babies, which reached #1 in both the US and UK. Their next album, Muscle of Love, was less successful, but still reached #10 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. This was the last album recorded by the original Alice Cooper band. note Furnier continued with a solo career (still as Alice Cooper) and released Welcome to My Nightmare.
Cooper's career spans 45 years with 28 studio albums, and is often cited as one of the most influential performers in the hard rock genre. Bob Dylan even commented in a 1978 interview that he thought "Alice Cooper is an overlooked songwriter". Cooper's stage shows are known for their shock value and vaudevillian influences, of which Groucho Marx and Mae West were both fans. Starting in 2004, he began hosting a Detroit-based radio show, Nights with Alice Cooper.
His 2021 album, Detroit Stories debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales charts, and was top 10 on several other charts.
As the band "Alice Cooper"
- Pretties for You (1969)
- Easy Action (1970)
- Love It to Death (1971)
- Killer (1971)
- School's Out (1972)
- Billion Dollar Babies (1973)
- Muscle of Love (1973)
As a solo artist
- Welcome to My Nightmare (1975)
- Alice Cooper Goes to Hell (1976)
- Lace and Whiskey (1977)
- The Alice Cooper Show (1977, live at Las Vegas' Aladdin's Castle)
- From the Inside (1978)
- Flush the Fashion (1980)
- Special Forces (1981)
- Zipper Catches Skin (1982)
- DaDa (1983)
- Constrictor (1986)
- Raise Your Fist and Yell (1987)
- Trash (1989)
- Hey Stoopid (1991)
- The Last Temptation (1994)
- Brutal Planet (2000)
- Dragontown (2001)
- The Eyes of Alice Cooper (2003)
- Dirty Diamonds (2005)
- Along Came a Spider (2008)
- Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)
- Paranormal (2017)
- Detroit Stories (2021)
This singer's works provide examples of:
- Album Title Drop: Love It to Death is named for the lyric, "I guess I love it/Love it to death" in the song "Long Way To Go."
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "The Congregation", on Welcome 2 My Nightmare has the standard mocking of certain professions:"And here in the fiery pit of boiling death, the lawyers, pimps, and mimes."
- Attention Whore: "Headlines" is from the perspective of one, detailing various crazy things he does to make the front page.
- Badass Bookworm: The man himself, as shown in Wayne's World, where he displays extensive knowledge about Native Americans.
- Ballad of X: "Ballad of Dwight Fry", from Love It to Death.
- Bowdlerise: Due to Moral Guardians thinking the title might be seen as a reference to menstruation, the title of "Only Women Bleed" was censored to "Only Women" when it was released as a single.
- Break the Cutie:
- Briefer Than They Think: The original band's heyday lasted barely four years, with their first hit single "I'm Eighteen" being released in November 1970 and their final concert taking place in April 1974. In particular, what are considered to be their four best albums were released in a span of just twenty-four months: Love It to Death in March 1971, Billion Dollar Babies in February 1973. By comparison, Alice's hair metal period alone spanned five years.
- The Cameo:
- Cooper had a scene in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, during which he sings "Because".
- He also played a hotel piano player in Sextette, Mae West's notoriously dreadful final film. Keith Moon and Ringo Starr made similar appearances; according to Alice, all three of them only did it so they could say they'd been in a film with Mae West.
- He also showed up in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare as a young Freddy's stepdad.
- Plays a bartender in Suck, a Canadian-made rock and roll vampire road movie.
- Plays a crazy homeless person in Prince of Darkness, who kills a man with a broken bicycle.
- As Himself in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and The Garbage Strike", when Monk, tormented by the smell of garbage piling up in San Francisco, gives a summation in which he theorizes that Cooper murdered the Victim of the Week due to jealousy over a particular type of chair that the victim owned.
- Car Fu: "Under My Wheels" is about a man murdering his wife by running her over.
- Chair Reveal: The music video "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)" ends with the son telling his hidden father that he didn't understand the film he went to see (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives). The dad's chair spins around, revealing that he was actually Alice Cooper all along, and he offers to explain it to him.
- That also happens at the end of the concert film, "Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper", with Alice being revealed as the therapist the director was telling his troubles to.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In "The Congregation", the defrocked priests and telemarketers are kept in Hell's "eternal mariachi room".
- Cosy Catastrophe: The song "Last Man On Earth" is about a guy who wakes up one morning to find that he's, well, the last man on earth. And instead of being depressed about it, he proceeds to sing about why it's awesome.
- Darker and Edgier:
- His albums "Brutal Planet" and "Dragontown."
- "When Hell Comes Home" is this compared to the rest of Welcome 2 My Nightmare.
- Deal with the Devil: The plot of The Last Temptation. He also tries to get Kermit to do this in his guest appearance on The Muppet Show. While Kermit is hesitant to sign the contract, Gonzo is more than willing to do so.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Cooper is a devout Christian, despite his songs being full of dark and scary subject matter.
- Dressed Like a Dominatrix: In concert Go To Hell is often accompanied by a dancing, whip-wielding woman in black leather and lingerie. Typically she attempts to dominate Alice, who is Too Kinky to Torture and ends up whipping her into submission.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": His name is Alice, not Vincent. However he has said his parents continued to call him Vince.
- Eagleland: Type 2, referenced in "Lost In America"I can't go to school cos I ain't got a gun
I ain't got a gun cos I ain't got a job
I ain't got job cos I can't go to school
So I'm lookin for a girl with a gun and a job
And a house, with cable!
Don't you know where you are?
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The band's first two albums, Pretties for You and Easy Action, were very psychedelic-sounding, influenced by Frank Zappa and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Alice hadn't developed his vocal style yet, either, and the albums rely mainly on instrumentals and Word Salad Lyrics.
- Epic Rocking: "Halo of Flies". According to Alice himself, the song was written to prove that the band could perform long progressive suites
- Facial Markings: He's well-known for his creepy clown-like stage makeup, predating other makeup-wearing rock bands like KISS and Marilyn Manson.
- Finger-Snapping Street Gang: The song "Gutter Cat vs. the Jets" on the album School's Out contains references to finger-snapping and gang fights, among other references to West Side Story; moreover, the song includes writing credits for Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.
- Free-Handed Performer: He is known for his stage presence as a singer. He did play the guitar early in his career (as a member of Alice Cooper, the band) but he has stuck to vocals, and some harmonica, saying: "I've always totally surrounded myself with really accomplished guitarists, there was no reason for me to play."
- Freudian Excuse: Defied in "Wicked Young Man", where the narrator explains that movies, music and video games didn't corrupt him and being evil is just his nature.
- Gender-Blender Name: But of course. He once described a trip to the bank where he was asked his name and gave "Alice Cooper." The teller said "I have about six Alice Coopers here, which one are you?" His response? "I'm the one whose account says mister Alice Cooper."
- Growling Gut: "Feed My Frankenstein" opens with one, presumably from the monster."Yes, yes, I know you're hungry. Oh! And here comes dinner!"
- Hair Metal: Went in this direction from 1986 to 1991 with "Constrictor", "Raise Your Fist and Yell", "Trash" and "Hey Stoopid"
- Hell-Bent for Leather: While Alice had worn leather before he took it to new heights when returned to the music industry in 1986 wearing a studded leather jacket with a leather shirt, leather gloves, leather pants and leather boots.
- Hospital Hottie: "Nurse Rosetta", from the point of view of the priest fantasizing about her.
- Hot as Hell:
- The song "You're My Temptation" is about the narrator trying to resist a seductive female trying to tempt him into Hell.
- Done more aggressively in "I'll Bite Your Face Off" and "What Baby Wants".
- Human Popsicle: "Refrigerator Heaven", wherein the POV character gets frozen until they find a cure for cancer.I'm freezing, I'm frozen, I'm icicle blue
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: The song "Feed My Frankenstein" jam-packed with euphemisms for genitalia and various sex acts.
- Iconic Item: The straitjacket Alice escapes from at every concert.
- I Love the Dead:
- The Trope Namer.
- Also the subject of "Cold Ethyl."
- Intercourse with You: Many songs, perhaps most blatantly "I'm Your Gun". There's also "Feed My Frankenstein", which includes the line "Let me drink the wine from your fur tea cup."
- Jizzed in My Pants: Suggested in "Nurse Rozetta", a song about a priest fantasizing about a nurse.
- Kids Rock: Several repetitions of the chorus in "School's Out" features kids singing along.
- "Department of Youth" from Welcome to My Nightmare.
- Last Note Nightmare: "Wind-Up Toy" ("You have to go now, it's bedtime") and the white noise freakout at the end of the album Killer, which represents Alice being killed in the electric chair, which is also featured in the stage show.
- Letters 2 Numbers: Used in the title for the album Welcome 2 My Nightmare.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "Millie and Billie" from From The Inside sounds like a corny pop duet, but the lyrics are about the two characters murdering each other's partners so they can be together.
- "The Man Behind The Mask," written for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, is the most cheery, uplifting song you'll ever hear about a deformed guy in a hockey mask who murders teenagers, though the original demo version of the song (which eventually became "Trick Bag") is more suitably dark.
- Madwoman in the Attic: "Former Lee Warmer" is sung from the perspective of a man who keeps his mute and apparently insane brother locked up in his attic.
- Meaningful Name: He chose from a book which listed of the most calm, inoffensive first and last names - number one on each were Alice and Cooper.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Since his albums frequently combine satire, more light-hearted humor, and both comically and genuinely dark themes, this is frequent. A good example is "When Hell Comes Home" from Welcome 2 My Nightmare—a heavy, creepy, completely serious song in which the narrator plans to kill his abusive father sandwiched between a love song to a corpse and a song featuring Ke$ha portraying the devil.
- Just about any of his "serious" ballads ("Only Women Bleed", "I Never Cry", etc.) are musically and often lyrically quite different from the rest of the album that they appear on.
- VERY common lyrically on the Darker and Edgier Brutal Planet and Dragontown albums, as they focus on "real-world" issues far more than usual, alternating between dark but somewhat humorous satire and pure, well, brutality.
- "Man of the Year" from The Eyes of Alice Cooper. The narrator spends the entire song talking about how great he is, then in the bridge suddenly reveals that despite this, he's incredibly lonely and depressed and then proceeds to kill himself. For the final verse he reverts to talking about how great the funeral was and how he bets God can't wait to meet him. Played for Laughs, obviously.
- Monster Clown: "Can't Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me" is about Exactly What It Says on the Tin - how if the singer should fall asleep he'll get eaten by monster clowns
- Moral Guardians: "Sex, Death and Money" depicts a hypocritical moral guardian who goes to all the filthy, depraved shows and then complains about them.I was so offended as I sat for three hours
It was mental cruelty, I was so shocked
Just a little more flesh just a little more blood
A little closer to the edge a little deeper in the mud
I'll never be the same
- Mummies at the Dinner Table: "Cold Ethyl", where the titular Ethyl is a corpse kept in a large refrigerator, and involves "Making love by the refrigerator light".
- Murder Ballad: "Billie and Millie", a duet about a couple murdering Millie's husband Donald to cover their extra-marital affair.
- Never Sleep Again: "Can't Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me", which was inspired by the line from The Simpsons episode "Lisa's First Word".
- New Media Are Evil: Averted, the narrator of "Wicked Young Man" explicitly says his actions have nothing to do with any games or music he likes, the kid is just a sociopath plain and simple.
- New Sound Album:
- The New Wave album Flush the Fashion
- Alice seems to love this trope. The original Alice Cooper band was mainly straightforward hard rock, but when Alice went solo he adopted a more sophisticated sound that included strings, horns, disco influences, a love ballad as well as keeping the hard rock edge which ultimately made an album more friendly for the masses. Alice kept this style until the aforementioned New Wave Flush the Fashion before jumping into a more modern 80s sound a few years later which got progressively commercial sounding, culminating in the glam rock album Trash. After two more albums in roughly the same style he switched to heavy, detuned Industrial Metal for two albums, then came full circle and went back to straight forward rock. The Alice Cooper band also did this, with their first two albums featuring long psychedelic influenced songs before Bob Ezrin came onboard and got them writing the shorter hard rock tunes they became famous for.
- Obligatory Bondage Song:
- "Poison" mentions "Black lace on sweat" and says, "I wanna hurt you just to hear you screamin' my name."
- "Bed of nails" is all about Intercourse with You with lyrics like, "Baby when you scratch / You know I'm gonna bite."
- Odd Friendship: He befriended Groucho Marx of all people. Whilst they took it in different directions both men had vaudeville leanings that the other appreciated.
- He was also very close friends with Glen Campbell.
- Off with His Head!: The oldest and most frequent method of Alice being executed at the climax of his concerts. He also did it in his appearance on The Gong Show.
- One-Word Title: Some albums and songs:
- Dragontown: Also a Portmantitle of "Dragon" + "Town".
- Pie in the Face: On one of VH1's countdown lists of the craziest concert moments, a fan hits him in the face with a cream pie while he's crouched down on the stage during a dramatic moment. He just rolls with it, wiping the filling off his face and licking his finger. In the accompanying interview he says that afterwards it occurred to him that it wasn't a smart thing to do, since he didn't know what the pie might be laced with. It turned out all right though.
- Power Ballad: "How You Gonna See Me Now", "Hell Is Living Without You", "Only My Heart Talkin", "Burning Our Bed", "Die For You", and "Might As Well Be On Mars"
- Preacher's Kid: No, really. He puts on a diabolic air but is actually devout.
- Sanity Slippage Song: Many of his songs. "Steven" is one examples. "From the Inside" is a whole album of insanity songs.
- Scavenged Punk: His stage costume for the Brutal Planet tour, which had a mix of biker gear, chainmail and leather to fit with the dystopian theme of the album.
- Religious Horror: Multiple:
- The concept albums:
- Go to Hell
- The Last Temptation
- Brutal Planet
- The concept albums:
- Royal Rapier: Wields one (which belonged to Errol Flynn) during concerts. It usually has money skewered on it during "Billion Dollar Babies" and is occasionally used to decapitate a baby at the end of the song.
- Self-Deprecation: The commercial break outros for Nights with Alice Cooper crack a lot of jokes at Alice's expense. "You're listening to a man whose first album was called a tragic waste of plastic..."
- "Sesame Street" Cred: Guest starred on The Muppet Show (an obvious Take That, Critics!, where he was an agent for the devil in the storyline, though not a very competent one).
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Alice often wears suits on stage, most commonly a white tuxedo for "School's Out."
- Shock Rock: The Trope Codifier.
- Shout-Out: "Desperado" was written for Jim Morrison.
- Self-Demonstrating Song: "School's Out"Well, we've got no classAnd we've got no principlesAnd we've got no innocenceWe can't even think of a word that rhymes!
- The Spook: "Triggerman" (from Dragontown) is about a such character.I ain't got a name I don't gotta face
No fingerprints or DNA
I ain't got no eyes
I don't got a tongue
But I know what's going on
I'm deaf and dumb
I'm pure non-entity
Don't even look for me
I watch you when you sleep
- Stalker with a Crush: "This Maniac's in Love With You!" is about a stalker talking about his crush to a psychologist, who gives the verdict that there is "nothing more than I can do."
- Talky Bookends: The music video for "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)", which starts with a son borrowing a car from his dad to go to see Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (it's a Video Full of Film Clips), and it ends with the son talking to his dad again.
- Teens Are Monsters :"Well we got no class/And we got no principles/We ain't got no innocence," according to "School's Out." It Makes Sense in Context if you've seen Rock 'n' Roll High School, where this is played at the end; the teens in question are the heroes.
- Cooper has a few songs based around this. "I'm Eighteen", "Department Of Youth", "Wicked Young Man" and "Teenage Frankenstein" are a few other examples.
- They Killed Kenny Again: Alice typically dies at the end of every show. On the Theater of Death tour, he died four times.
- Transformation Sequence: While Alice usually comes onstage already in-character, in a few tours he started the show as Alice Cooper (the performer) and partway through became the evil Alice Cooper (the character) in a transformation sequence, which usually involved the melodies from "Steven" being played while a nurse or doctor forcibly applied his greasepaint.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: From "No More Mr. Nice Guy" - "I used to be such a sweet sweet thing till they got a hold of me..."
- Video Full of Film Clips: "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)", which uses the clips from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: Xzibit raps a verse in "Stand"
- You Are Number 6: Featured in the song "Clones" ("6 is having problems adjusting to his clone status...").